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Vietnamese food in Paris (2/16/2012)

Vietnamese food has a market edge over other countries’ products thanks to its quality. French consumers believe that products imported from Vietnam being more qualified and luxury than the ones from other Asian nations. 

Favorite Vietnamese food in France. Image: SGTT 
  Vietnamese products’ advantages

The popularity of Vietnamese food is rapidly increasing in France. Except Israelite and Islamite keeping off pork, almost French people like Vietnamese cuisine and thus sometimes invite their family or friends for this type of food. In Asian restaurants, many French order noodle soup by themselves without their friends’ suggestions for tasting. 
Vietnamese baguette with pork is a favorite for lunch time when people are busy. Spring rolls, pork and shrimp rolls, steamed rice rolls, dumplings are sold widely in big and small supermarkets. There are numbers of people having Vietnamese friends teaching them to cook Vietnamese food.

Customers particularly enjoy food imported from Vietnam. Vietnamese fresh vegetables and fruits arriving France are sold out within three or four days. Vietnamese frozen products including shrimp, fish, peeled fruit and ready-to-cook foods are also popular.

In Asian food shops, products made in France and Vietnam outweigh cold stores. On the occasions of Lunar New Year and Mid-autumn Festival, there are lots of candies and jams imported from Vietnam.

Cutthroat competition

Restaurants serving Vietnamese cuisine in triangle Place Italie – Porte d’Italie – Porte d’Ivry, district 13, which is called Chinatown by the Vietnamese, currently present Chinese and Thai food in their menu and only maintain famous Vietnamese dishes such as spring rolls, steamed chicken salad, pork and shrimp rolls, steamed rice rolls and noodle soup.

The market of imported Vietnamese food is repressed by Thai products. Thai frozen ready-to-cook food starts entering many supermarkets. Thailand also holds 50% market share of fish sauce. Meanwhile, purchase of Vietnamese rice, fresh veggies and fruits is hard due to limited supply. There are few choices for other Vietnamese canned and bottled food either.

Foods imported from Vietnam hasn’t shown up in supermarkets belonging to big French distributing corporations which are called foreign markets by the Vietnamese.

Fast solutions needed

Stores or supermarkets retailing Asian products purchase from importers operating in France, not from Vietnamese producers. Information on labels of products sold in Chinatown shows that there is only one Vietnamese products importer in Paris. Many overseas Vietnamese buy products from this importer to get items newly launched at home.

Nevertheless a swallow doesn't make a summer. Vietnamese food processing industry needs to have a representative office in Europe whose functions are expanding markets and solving issues between Vietnamese producers and European retail stores. This office can advise domestic enterprises on sanitation and safety rules, cuisine customs and European food market.

Selling products only at Vietnamese stores would drop a big market share of French consumers and lead to fierce competition with Thai products. Concentrating on raw materials market sold to European food processing companies would result in disadvantages for Vietnamese farmers because such materials have a little value. A suggested solution is entering the market of European style ready-to-cook food with high value and profitable products that can stabilize Vietnamese farmers’ income. This also is a relatively big and sustainable segment which Thai products haven’t commanded yet.

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